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China: jobs of future require vocational ed

China needs international support to train young people for jobs of the future, particularly in vocational industries, according to a new report from digital agency United Media Solution. 

Fast-growing industries in China include hospitality, delivery services and online shopping. Photo: iStock.

China's government is now increasingly focusing on filling vocational skills gaps

Although popular subjects among Chinese students generally include business, management and engineering, this preference could create “a mismatch” between the skills graduates gain and the immediate demands of high-growth industries in China, the organisation warned in a new white paper on the country’s international education market. 

The fastest-growing industries in China currently include hospitality, delivery services and online shopping – lower-skilled sectors that are more likely to require vocational training. 

China has previously prioritised expanding access to higher education but the government is now increasingly focusing on filling vocational skills gaps to boost future economic development. According to UMS, there is also an opportunity for international institutions to support this. 

“There is significant scope to provide support for China in this capacity, via international study programs offshore, knowledge sharing, and transnational education programs in China, and throughout Asia that aim to share the best-in-class training for vocational skills,” the report notes. 

Approximately 6,000 offshore Chinese nationals applied for an Australian visa to study with a vocational provider in 2022/23, compared to the 57,000 who applied to a higher education institution. 

“Any organisation that doesn’t match that criteria will be seeking different kinds of students”

Jessica Miao, founder of United Media Solution, said, “In many cases, the cost of moving overseas to study is often justified by the prestige of studying at the highly-ranked universities. 

“Therefore, any educational organisation that doesn’t match that criteria will be seeking different kinds of students, and there are tens of thousands of them in China.

“Collaboration to establish trans-national vocational training centres in China may be the first step to raising the profile of international destinations, beyond just academic pathways.”

While English-speaking countries have experienced declines in the number of Chinese students choosing to study there in recent years, UMS predicts the long-term trajectory remains “positive” as interest in studying and working outside China returns.

China is experiencing economic decline and the country has recorded record youth unemployment rates this year, reaching over 20% in July and leading the government to pause publication of the data. 

The number of university students graduating in China this year reached a record 11.6 million, but finding a graduate job can be challenging. 

This means students are increasingly looking for alternative career options and post-study work opportunities abroad, the agency noted.

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